Midnight Pub



I have some longer-form pieces in the works, but in the meantime, am trying to do smaller posts in the meantime as well.

Organization has been an ongoing struggle for me, as I tend to take on too many things at any given time. This is further exacerbated by an innate curiosity: I want to find out about all the things, even if I don't go deep into anything specific.

In addition to collecting information, I tend to collect online identities. It's a problem of over-specializing, mostly, and also conflicting desires for anonymity and wanting to share at least some of what I do with others. As usual, this resulted in more than a little decision paralysis as I tried to figure out what kinds of stuff I was going to do where, and what each of these identities would deal with/talk about. I've decided that, at least for now, is to focus on the name you see on this page, which is the one that I keep anonymous. If nothing else, I'm trying to become less dependent on electronic communication with people I know in real life.

Anyway, I've also been experimenting with different ways to organize all the little bits of information that I gather up as I go about my day. The result is what's known as a commonplace book.¹ It's a way of keeping a kind of knowledge journal, without having the entire book be a specific topic or theme. I'd toyed with using Notability on my iPad and a paper book; while I generally preferred the latter in terms of writing experience, I didn't like how it was organized. The typical approach, as I understand it, is that you do a table of contents with sections for each letter of the alphabet, and then put a given topic or entry under its first letter, plus the page number(s) where it can be found. This works, to be clear, but it still could be better.

After more digging, I decided to get an e-ink tablet, specifically (in my case) a reMarkable 2.² It's a paired-down tablet with an e-ink screen that is designed solely for reading and writing. You can type on it (they just released a keyboard folio), but it's mainly geared to writing by hand. The writing experience is *fantastic*, and I find it more comfortable even than paper. It also lets you annotate/write on whatever you're reading (it supports ePub and PDF currently). So it's perfect for my use-case, and has the added bonus of synching/backing up whatever you write or add for reading. Admittedly, the privacy-conscious part of me isn't 100% happy with this, especially since the company uses Google storage. However, the company is also Norwegian, meaning anything you upload is subject to GDPR, and has a good privacy policy on top of that. Plus I wasn't planning on using it as a journal anyway. Besides which, you can actually connect it to a personal storage setup (Nextcloud is the only one I would actually use, of course). There are other products out there, but they generally do a lot more, which in this case was not something I wanted--I much prefer the simplicity and lack of distractions of having what amounts to an electronic notebook. Probably the only thing it's missing for me right now is a built-in dictionary, which I find really useful when reading non-English texts. While there is something pleasantly archaic about having to look up words manually, it does break my flow/concentration more than I'd like.

I also plan on doing an online version on my web space here. Call it my own little library or bookcase, and if nothing else it's a good way to both keep track of/stockpile longer texts and play with typography. It's also where I plan on posting any long-form bits I write (mirrored on my write.as blog). In addition to texts, I plan on hosting the odd coding project (when it's web-based, of course) there as well. For example, I'm currently working on some fancier styling for the Midnight that takes advantage of the fact that we can run JavaScript as part of our theme files. One of these will be a way to have both light- and dark-mode themes, since with JavaScript I can add a switcher button and change page styling on the fly. This is a lower priority, admittedly, as I generally prefer dark mode. But it's on the list, and please let me know if it's something you'd like.

¹ Wikipedia - Commonplace Book
² reMarkable